I was supposed to be a boy. Before I was born my mom was sure I was a boy. I would have been named Billy, ick. Claudette called me Billy when I was brought home from the hospital. I don’t know how long that went on but that’s how sure my mom was that I was a boy. My dad adores my mom. I am the 4th child and the 3rd daughter. My dad wanted to name each of his daughters after my mom and my mom wouldn’t hear of it. I can pick apart all 3 of my older siblings names, 1st and middle and tell you who they were named after. By the time I was having children my mom told me “name them what you want, you just can’t please everyone and someone’s going to feel left out no matter what you do”. She must have realized that after her 3rd one because I was going to be Billy. We have no relatives named Bill or William so apparently my mom liked the name.
Before my mom was sure I was a boy and my parents were kicking around baby names of both sexes, my mom kind of liked the name April. That wouldn’t have been awful. My dad thought the name April Austin sounded a little too showy. My mom kind of liked the name Paulette. That would have been horrible beyond belief. Growing up, when my sisters and I were introduced as Claudette, Bernadette and Jacque, one out of every 10 people thought they were original in telling me that my name should have been Jackette (as in jacket). Now amusing as that isn’t the 1st time one hears that, it gets less and less amusing the following thousand times. I cannot even begin to imagine the variety of horrible jokes out there that would fit in if we 3 had been Claudette, Bernadette and Paulette. I would always have wondered if maybe we were all just smaller versions of ourselves like a kitchenette or a dinette, and if we are should we not strive to do things? Apparently we’re not the real model. Let me make this clear, I do not, do NOT, think of my sisters as smaller models of themselves. However, if all 3 of us were “ettes” that would have pushed me over the edge leading to that wonder. My dad didn’t like the name Paulette. I love my dad.
I was due to be born on a leap year on March 2nd. Had I been 2 days early instead of 2 days late my birthday would have been February 29th. I’d still only be 7 years old. As much as I may act that way sometimes, I’m not. When I was young I thought that Feb. 29th would have made a pretty cool birthday. As I’ve gotten older I think it would make me feel like a misplaced person. Depending on the time of day one was born on the 29th, they’d either have to borrow the 28th or the 1st as their birthday. Neither one would really be their birthday. There they are, having to borrow someone else’s birthday and only getting one of their own every 4 years. I know, who else would wonder about these things except for me so back to the subject.
I was born in the afternoon on March 4th and guess what mom… I am not a boy. I imagine my mom was more exhausted, than surprised that I wasn’t a boy, and my parents had never reached an agreement for a girl’s name. So when my dad suggested I should be named after her she, just went with it. I have no idea what the term was in that day and age that they used for our “whatever” but I can so see my mom doing the wave of the hand in the air thing and saying “whatever”. I also have no idea if she ever felt regret for that “whatever” after she’d had a chance to sleep some.
So there it is. My mom is Jacqueline Ann Austin and I am too. Seconds are only for males that are rich or redneck. Females are never listed as “the 2nd”, ie: Jacqueline Ann Austin II. Females are also never, ever juniors. My mom tried really hard to make me different (like I need help there) so we’d never, throughout our lives, be mistaken for each other. So, right, that didn’t quite work but she tried. The 1st thing she did was spell my name differently. She’s Jackie, I’m Jacque. They sound the same but are different on paper. The second thing she tried didn’t work out as successfully, she added the Ann. I was called (one word here) Jacqueann. That does sound different and if it had caught on and continued it could have worked. When I look through my baby book, everything through 1/2 of my year being 3 is written as “Jacqueann did this” or “Jacqueann” did that”. After 3 & a 1/2 I was just referred to as Jacque.
I suspect I know why. My grandfather always told me stories of things I did when I was very young. He told me about Easter Sunday when I was all decked out for church and was sent outside to play until we left and I hopped in the little kiddie pool. He told me about me climbing up the lattice on the side of the porch. Although, I can’t imagine someone not climbing the lattice, any little kid will tell you that that is what the lattice is there for. Most importantly, he told me about the one time that he had to spank me. Fuzzy recollection but it had something to do with him almost running me over with his pick up truck when I was around 3 and a 1/2. I hadn’t listened or whatever and I guess he almost ran me over. Apparently it scared the daylights out of him and he got out of his truck and put me over his knee and spanked me. He told me it broke his heart when after being spanked,I looked up at him with tears in my big baby blues and said “I wuv you gwampa”. It was also that moment when he decided that I was the single most backwards child that he had ever met. Then he changed my name. I was apparently backwards so that’s what he did to my name. No longer Jacqueann, he changed it to Anniejac. I can only guess that my mom hated it and that’s where she dropped the Ann part, trying to get rid of the whole Anniejac thing. I should ask her, never have, but the timing fits. Incidentally, in Missouri, the Anniejac did stick.
As a teenager, when I was extremely social and I got lots of phone calls, whoever answered the phone would ask “which one?” That stumped more than a few people. Pretty much all of their responses were the same, no matter which spelling, they sounded the same even if one includes the last name. Once Jackie Austin or Jacque Austin was stated, the person who answered the phone would the ask “the young one or the old one?” I cannot tell you how much my mom appreciated that in her 40’s. Okay, pretty much not at all. I finally taught my friends to say “the one the “Q”.
Throughout the years 98 out of 100 people who see my written name (as Jacque, not Jacqueline) and have had to say it out loud have failed. I’m not even going to go into all the names I’ve been referred to as, use your imagination and know that there are so many more. That part sucks a little but being unique makes up for it. The Jacqueline part came in handy when telemarketers called, as they did frequently in the 90’s. Anyone who asked for Jacqueline, apparently didn’t know me so I was always either not home or had moved.
The 1st time Rob and I married I did the stupid thing, I took his last name. Honestly, the night I met Rob and he told me his name was Rob Garber my response was “really?” It just sounded like a weird name. We got married over a trimester break and I had added a class to my school schedule and on the 1st day of class I had to, out loud, in front of the entire class tell the professor what my name was because I wasn’t on his list. I couldn’t do it. A friend of mine was sitting next to me in that class and we both started laughing because I just couldn’t say that with a straight face. I honestly can’t tell you which one of us ended up giving the professor the answer he was looking for and I ended up dropping the class anyway so it was pointless outside of it being the 1st time I had to publically announce this new name as being me. Not so good.
I still think Garber is kind of strange, not as strange as my initial reaction but kind of strange. Never the less it’s pretty easy to pronounce, right? It doesn’t look like anything that it doesn’t sound like. Simple and to the point. If one pronounces the letters one will be able to properly say the name. One would think. That didn’t happen a lot. Grayber, Grabber, Gerber I got frequently. I learned to say “Garber, like barber but with a G”. Nope, I had people telling me that they couldn’t find me or whichever child and I’d ask what they were looking under and they’d tell me the K’s or the B’s or the P’s. Yeah, I know, I don’t get it either. Bad enough no one gets your 1st name right, when a last name is added that no one can seem to get right either, it pretty much sucks.
Being a single mom of elementary school age children was a bit of a challenge. Having a last name that was different from my children led everyone to believe that I had re-married and had taken the last name of the step-dad. I know, ef that. The teachers usually looked at me sideways when I informed them they were incorrect. The other moms were always very welcoming and polite and nice…until they found out that I wasn’t married. The picture I was shown was that any woman, in her 30’s who wasn’t married but HAD been married is a direct threat to everyone’s marriage . Are you kidding me? It was always at the point of me telling people that I wasn’t married and that Austin is my real name (hate the term “maiden name”) that the women would never allow their husbands to talk to me and in spite of that, the husbands would all start telling me that they went to the YMCA every morning at 6 and after running a zillion miles they would do this and this and this. Again, are you kidding me? I can only surmise that there are there are a lot of unhappy marriages out there if women are that immediately protective of their mate and men immediately need to show themselves as being very manly to any mate-less female. I can’t even begin to imagine the “happy” homes the children were raised in. Seriously people, if you are not happy…GET OUT.
It was written in my divorce papers that I would once again be legally me. I was ecstatic to get my real name back and vowed to never stray from it again. I appreciate being a little unique, thanks mom for that. I like that my last name is simple and although I get a few people trying to look me up under the O’s (I know really? ) it appears that Austin is an easier name to locate/pronounce/spell/whatever than Garber. I was born with my name, I will die with my name and I kind of like it.